Ask the Advocate
by Pat Howey
Pat Howey is an Indiana
advocate who helps parents obtain special education services and resolve
special education disputes. She also provides Wrightslaw advocacy training. Pat answers your questions in Ask
"Your material was informative and will benefit my law practice. Your thoroughness and your lively presentation made this program a huge success." - Charles Weiner, Esq.
"I loved the two-day seminar by you and Mr. Steedman - it was "just what the doctor" ordered. I know what I need to do - and how to do things more effectively. I feel so empowered! - Florida parent
"You have a special ability of explaining that really helps
the reader understand ... Please keep writing!" -- Parent of child with
10 Tips About Placement - Many parents make the mistake of putting the cart (the placement) before the horse (the IEP). Decisions about placement are to be made after the child’s IEP is developed. If the school does not have an appropriate placement, it must create one.
10 Tips for Good Advocates - Pat says parents need to understand that the law gives them power to use in educational decisions for their children. Parents should not be afraid to use their power. But, there are better ways to obtain positive results than to roar through IEP meetings in a Mack Truck.
10 Tips for a Successful School Year - Pat offers 10 ten tips to help you get off to a good start at the beginning of the new school year.
10 Tips for Avoiding Confrontation with Parents - Tips to encourage and inspire members of the IEP Team for more effective and efficient meetings.
14 Tips: Reviewing Your Child's Educational Records - How to review and request records from your child's school, step-by-step.
10 Tips for Ending the School Year - Great tips for wrapping up the school year, reviewing your child's program and services, and steps you can take to plan for a successful year next fall.
Present Levels: The Foundation of the IEP. Until the Present Levels in your child's IEP are up to date, you will never be able to get the program, placement, or education your child needs. Pat explains why parent input is so important during the IEP Team's assessment of your child's present levels of performance.
School Says, "No Advanced Classes for Kids with IEPs? Children with IEPs receive protection from discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). Does your child qualifies for advanced classes and the school will not enroll her because she has an IEP? That sounds like discrimination.
Written Opinions: A How-To Manual.Your written opinion ensures that the IEP team understands what you think happened at the meeting. Tell the team that you will be sending a written opinion later. You do not have to be an expert on “the law” to write a written opinion. In fact, it may be best not to quote or interpret the law in your written opinion.
Good Grades: Does My Child Still Need Specialized Instruction? Teachers give out grades based on many different factors, this does not mean your child is learning. If your child is struggling, consider an evaluation to determine if she needs special instruction and related services.
Will a 504 Plan Provide a Scribe & Reader for GQE Testing? Schools often suggest readers and scribes for children who do not read or write well. This is appropriate as long as the school also provides reading and writing instruction. Too often, schools provide accommodations instead of special instruction.
Guilty About Asking for Services? Remember the Domino Effect - Pat describes
lessons learned from her child's due process hearing, how effective parent advocacy
can force the system to change, and how this benefits many other children whom
you may never know.
to Hone Your Advocacy Skills - and Help Others - Pat has interesting
advice for parents who are anxious at school meetings.
IDEA 2004: Can the IEP Team Prepare a "Draft IEP?" IDEA 2004 discourages the use of "draft IEPs" because they send a message that parental concerns and parental participation are not valued. Since some IEP teams will continue to use draft IEPs, Pat Howey describes the pros and cons and how you can turn a lemon draft IEP) into lemonade.
IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About IEPs for Children with Behavior Problems - IDEA 2004 and the special education regulations include specific requirements for IEPs of children whose behavior impedes their learning or the learning of other children, including training teachers to use positive behavioral interventions and strategies.
IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About Functional Goals in IEPS - The IDEA 2004 statute and federal regulations include very specific requirements about using present levels of functional performance to develop functional goals in the IEPs for all children with disabilities. Pat also teaches you how to find answers to your questions in references that are available on Wrightslaw.
IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About Suspending Children with Disabilities from School. Pat Howey answers questions from parents about suspensions - how long schools can suspend children, under what circumstances, what services schools must provide when children are removed from school, in-school suspenions, and basic issues of fairness.
Differences Between Section 504 & IDEA - Confused about Section 504
v. IDEA? You aren't alone. Pat describes some important differences between these
Male Aides for Female Students - A parent is uncomfortable with the school's plan to assign a male aide to help her adolescent daughter with bathroom and feminine hygiene needs. Pat suggests ways to get the school to reconsider their plan and a list of IEP goals and objectives to help this young lady live safely and independently.
My Child is Being
Evaluated - What Tests Should I Request? Pat offers advice about evaluations,
how to use tests to measure progress, how to use your state laws about testing,
and how to find an evaluator with whom to work.
Child with LD/ADD is Not Allowed to Play Sports Because of Grades - Pat offers
advice to a parent whose child is often excluded from sports because of poor grades
- despite the fact that he has an IEP that is supposed to provide him with help.
Threats: Refusing to Sign the IEP -
Pat has advice for a parent who is refusing to sign the IEP until the school provides
the services she wants.
Preparing for IEP Meetings: Providing Information & Sharing Concerns - Pat answers a parent's questions about how and when to provide information to the IEP team, and emphasizes the fact that "no one likes surprises."
Preparing for IEP Meetings: What to Do When
the School Ignores Your Requests - Pat offers commonsense advice to a parent
who is frustrated because the school has ignored her requests for help.
So You Want to Be an Advocate? Your Game Plan - What do you need to learn? What skills do you need to acquire? Here are three essential things you need to do
What You Need to Know Before You File a Complaint with the State - Pat shares her experiences and opinions about filing a complaint with the state department of education.
18 Tips on Filing Complaints - Pat offers advice about filing a complaint, and issues warnings you should heed.
Why Must I Make Modification for a Child? It Seems Unfair to the Other Children -
Pat answers a teacher's questions, and reflects on modifications we receive (and take for granted) at work and in everyday life.
Why You Need to Ask "Dumb Questions" - In this light-hearted article, Pat explains why parents need to ask questions and shares some questions she was too "dumb" to ask when her daughter entered school.
the Playing Field: Power Struggles, Meetings, Follow Up Letters -
Pat talks to parents about the impact of different perceptions and expectations,
trust, power struggles, and the dangers of making threats.
How Advocates Can Help Parents Advocate. Part of your responsibility as an advocate is to help parents move beyond the emotions that prevent them from being effective advocates for their child. If you are unable to do this by using all of the measures available to you, then it may be time to refer these parents to another advocate or attorney..
"I had the wonderful opportunity to meet you at the COPAA conference. Thank you for sharing your time, energy and expertise with us all." -- From a Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) Education Resource Specialist in CA
Meet Pat Howey
Howey has a B.A. in Paralegal Studies from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College where
she graduated with honors.
Pat is an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and other organizations. The Learning Disabilities Association of Indiana honored Pat with its Outstanding Service Award for her commitment and compassion towards students with disabilities.
As a member of the Wrightslaw
Speakers Bureau, Pat provides training for parents, educators, and others
who want to ensure that children receive quality special education services. Wrightslaw special education law and advocacy programs are designed to meet the needs of parents, educators, health care providers, advocates, and attorneys who represent children with disabilities.
the World -- One Child at at Time."
Special Education Consulting